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hand-clenching: part of an exacerbation?

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  • hand-clenching: part of an exacerbation?

    I was diagnosed with R/RMS in 1998, then un-diagnosed (long story) in 2000. In 2004, I had a major exacerbation (lost 25% of my FOV) and the neuro decided that the original dx was correct and started me on Copaxone.

    In 2008, through some issues with my neuro., I found myself with an expired rx and no appointment for 5 months. To my delight, I discovered that my gluten-, soy-, and corn-free diet (suggested by a functional nutritionist) seemed to have made a real difference in my MS. My new neuro confirmed this via MRI--and I've had no new plaques since (so, no major exacerbations).

    Recently, though, I've had a problem with my hands clenching. I have to lay them against a flat surface, otherwise they curl into fists. When I wake in the a.m., they are very sore from being clenched all night. My hands shake when I just try to hold my fingers out straight. I've noticed that I feel a little stiff in general, but my hands are the worst. I am very active on our farm, and I do workout videos at least 5x a week.

    I do plan to contact my neuro., but was interested to hear if anyone else has had this issue.

  • #2
    Hey farmermom, I know more than few folks who have this issue. It's likely spasticity and there are treatments that can help. Your neuro will definitely be able to assist. Here is a good pdf that explains spasticity (and fist clenching) in detail:

    While you are there, you might also want to ask about any change of brain volume. Researchers are discovering that that is important, perhaps even more so than lesions, at measuring disease activity. Hope this helps.
    Dave Bexfield


    • #3
      Hi there,

      I agree with Dave that it's likely related to spasticity. I have found gently talking to my affected spastic area to be helpful. A bit like conscious relaxation. Also some gentle stretching, maybe in warm water. I tried Baclofen which is often prescribed for spasticity but it made my whole body too weak and limp. Maybe a consultation with an occupational therapist might be beneficial for some hand exercises.

      Good luck,

      Teena Marie


      • #4
        Hi farmermom,

        I have the same problem but just with my left hand. For me its been accompanied with a gradual decline in dexterity as well. My neuro wrote me a prescription for a Wrist, Hand, Finger Orthoses (WHFO) for night use. It keeps my hand in a neutral position all night. It definitely helps - if I forget to put it on my hand is clenched in the morning and gives me a lot more trouble all day. I also know some people who have used a rolled up small towel or facecloth to keep their hands from clenching when resting.

        I have lots of other spasticity issues as well and do take baclofen daily. But as per Tina Maria baclofen has its side effects. For me its worth it and after taking it for a while you do become more tolerant to the drug.

        Good luck!

        "the only difference between a happy ending and a sad ending is where you decide the story ends."
         Andrew Kaufman


        • #5
          hand clenching

          I have tried, for this very annoying and quite painful thing, lying on the side of the bed and sleeping with my right arm hanging down slightly. It is a bit odd but relieves the tightness and clenching.


          • #6
            Yes. I have this problem too and found that balling up edges of my bed comforter into my palms gives relief while I sleep. In ten years, however, no medical caregiver gave me any ideas or orthotics. It seems to me that simple ideas to improve the quality of of life for MS patients is either found by aggressive self advocating and research or luck. Also, on the aside, Dave, I have been treated in big medical centers and ask every MRI how my volume or atrophy looks and am told that isn't measured. When will there be standardized ways to measure this for MS? The research seems to indicate this is the best measure of MS disease process. Uggh.


            • #7
              Dave, the link you posted is the best info on MS spasticity I've seen. Thanks for posting this! I just found this thread and will print it out for my MS records. Suebee


              • #8
                Spasticity can be comedic

                This weekend I was at my preteen daughter's sporting event and reached over to push her hair out of her face before she ran off. She is embarrassed by mom's affections in public. But I can't resist. She is my baby. But Instead of pushing a strand of hair out of her face, my increased spasticity in My hand, poor fine motor control, and off propoception, my finger went straight into and up her nostril. In front of team. We made eye contact and laughed. I explained or stuttered something about my MS. And my daughter, laughed too, and said "yah, I know!"


                • #9
                  Haha, Suebee. Glad your kid doesn't need to have a glass eye because of awkward Mom.
                  Dave Bexfield